Growing a Story for the Long Haul

Bowl of Earliblaze Apples

Monday afternoons my spouse and I devote time to organizing the household, reducing clutter, and cleaning.

It’s a long-term project we do together. We schedule it on the calendar. Sometimes it means working together on a household issue. Sometimes it means moving boxes and furniture. It definitely means cleaning. Yesterday I spent an hour shredding personal papers. There’s is a lot to do.

We each have reasons for the project. Mine is to eliminate belongings accumulated in 67 years so when I’m gone those left don’t have to deal with them. In particular, I don’t want our daughter to have to spend weeks doing work I should have done. I also want a more comfortable place to live.

The project conflicts with my desire to produce new work. Yet a few hours a week won’t kill me as I slow down into retirement. As the work gets organized, there is a lot to like about it. Now or never is the time to consider all this stuff.

1995 Apple Tree Planting Record

Among recent findings was the planting record for our grove of fruit trees. Planted on April 22, 1995, I began with six varieties of trees, which over the years has been reduced to three: one Red Delicious and two Earliblaze apple trees.

Yesterday I ordered two new apple trees: one Zestar! and one Crimson Crisp. I’ll take out one of the Earliblaze trees and increase the distance between plantings. The idea is to get a succession of ripening fruit — the same thing I originally intended. The new ripening order will be Zestar!, Earliblaze, Crimson Crisp, then Red Delicious. I plan to plant one or two Gold Rush Trees, but the nursery is sold out this year. Gold Rush is a late apple that stores exceptionally well. Planting trees is a longer term commitment than a couple of seasons so I don’t mind waiting until 2021 for those.

I know more about apples today than I did when we moved to Big Grove. That’s mostly due to working at a local orchard during apple season. It changed how we view them dramatically, introducing new flavors and varieties. Whatever apples we have in our home orchard, we’ll supplement them with other local fruit. I probably think about apples more than most people.

If I were to tell my story, the seven seasons of working on farms and at the orchard would be part of it. Not only is the work a source of food, it is about culture and learning. It is about integrating our kitchen with an ecology of food that includes fewer items from the grocery store and more I grow or have a hand in growing.

Producing a crop of apples is a sign of something. To begin with, it is a long-term commitment to growing. The rest is about how the trees are cultivated and apples are used. If all I did was make hard cider with them, that would be something. I want more from life than that. I’m in it for the long haul.

4 replies on “Growing a Story for the Long Haul”

I only make sweet cider and apple cider vinegar. Sometimes a neighbor rents a press and we share, and sometimes I use a kitchen juicer. That’s it. The only other thing about sweet cider is deciding whether to flash pasteurize. If I water bath can it gets to temperature. If we’re drinking right away we skip it.

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